James Tarmy has an interesting story on Bloomberg about the Rockefeller estate which will come to market at Christie’s over the next few months. David Rockefeller had a good eye and a keen trading sense. As Tarmy points out, the success of Rockefeller’s Rothko sold at the pre-credit crisis peak of the market for $73m was bought for $10,000 53 years earlier.
The capital gains on that sale caused Rockefeller to make plans to dispose of his art in a way that would maximize the value to charity. The subsequent competition between auction houses became legend within the industry. Rockefeller’s representatives were the toughest of customers. They drove a very hard bargain which has left some bruised feelings even years later.
No one can confirm the final guarantee level (and it is said to include a toggle that gives the estate an additional advantage) but $750m is a safe number to work with on what the estate was expected to generate.
That’s a big number even for Rockefeller. Christie’s approached the market gingerly. In January, some of the top works—Picasso, Matisse and Monet—were released to the press with estimates of $70m, $50m and $35m respectively. Since then, Christie’s has clearly gotten good feedback from the market as it tours the works to Asia and Europe.
Confidence is growing—or the estate may simply be pushing harder on the estimates, as sellers often do. Either way, Tarmy tells us that three paintings that were estimated at $155m in January are now tagged for $210m to prospective buyers:
Christie’s anticipates that bidding for Picasso’s haunting Young Girl With a Flower Basket, a rare vertical panel from the artist’s Rose Period, will range from $90 million to $120 million. That might sound high, but it’s relatively conservative, given that the most recent equivalent sale was 14 years ago, when Picasso’s Boy With a Pipe, painted in 1905, sold for $104 million at Sotheby’s in New York. Christie’s expects bidding for a Monet water lilies painting (1914-17) to be in the range of $50 million to $70 million, which is also fairly restrained: The house sold a water lilies painting half that size for $43.7 million in 2012.
A Matisse from 1923, Odalisque Lying With Magnolias, “was another painting he admired dramatically, at least partially because he met Matisse a couple of times when he was young, in the 1930s,” Johnson says. Christie’s anticipates interest in the range of $70 million to $90 million for that work, which reflects the general consensus that it’s one of the artist’s best paintings. The auction record for a Matisse painting is $46 million.